When a student says things like this, how do you respond?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by orangetea, Dec 1, 2012.

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  1. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    It seems like if admin wanted you to have this conversation, then it wasn't fair to shoot down your student's response, which was his honest opinion. Maybe it would have been better for you to state your opinion in a positive way, but not disregard what he had to say. It might actually hinder what you're trying to do with these discussions if students feel that their opinions are not valued.
     
  2. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree in the respect that I believe schools should be a place for social/moral development. Wasn't this part of the initial reason for schools? In either case, that's really what we try to do with social studies. As you mention, sometimes students don't learn it at home, so schools especially can play a vital role in situations like that.
     
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Suppose that some students act on their strongly held beliefs about the wrongness of, say, Muslims or LGBT students. To the extent to which those actions create a hostile environment for the Muslim or LGBT students, I submit that those actions also create a hostile environment generally: in my experience, an environment is only truly safe for one when it is safe for all. Maslow's hierarchy makes some strong and justified predictions about the learning that will then take place. One can certainly hope for a change in belief at some point - but I think the school does indeed have an obligation to all of its students to enforce certain standards of behavior.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    60 minutes did an interesting section a while ago about some research with infants and children. The study showed that there is evidence to the position that humans are innately and/or begin life discriminating against each other, and left to our own the natural result would be discrimination. Cooperation, sharing, and compassion are the things that need to be taught, contrary to the popular saying that "we aren't born to hate".

    If a student comes into school not having the skills of compassion and sharing it is because the parent has neglected to teach the student these skills. It is not because the parent has taught the child to hate so to speak. In many cases the parent probably had never been taught not to discriminate.

    In these cases, I think these lessons need to be taught by educational institutions if students do not have these skills. More and more students are being neglected parenthood by unfit parents, and many parents expect schools to essentially raise their children.

    Do they think that we should watch, feed, educate, and in some cases clothe and bathe their children but refrain from teaching them how to be decent human beings because that is against the parents' belief systems? If that's the case, I think these parents need to throw their money towards the private education system. Society should culture students to be cooperative and compassionate towards each other, and honestly the parents of the children who think otherwise should not be parents.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I agree, which is why I didn't really say that his opinions were unacceptable. My main concern is that other students won't feel safe with this student speaking his mind.

    This student is also a troublemaker. I'm pretty sure knows that I'll be upset about some of the comments he makes, and that's why he makes them. But I'm also sure that he does believes what he says, and I don't know if I have the right to talk to him about them.

    Either way, I'm talking to admin about this on Monday.
     
  6. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Dec 2, 2012

    If you have it set into the discussions for the children to agree/disagree/add on/ask questions to the person who shared, you might ask the class what do you think? Does anyone agree/disagree why or why not? Anyone want to ask questions/add on? I also might say "turn to your neighbor and talk about how it might feel for ________ to happen to you" or "have any of you had a time where you had to/this happened to you how did it feel", then have them share with the class.

    That way you as the teacher are not confronting the person making the comment. The child's peers will give feedback which is way more straight forward and powerful in most circumstances.
     
  7. ozteach

    ozteach Comrade

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    Wow, that's interesting! I can't see how you would avoid some controversy here. Is that the point?
    I agree with others saying that it is our job to encourage acceptance and non-discriminatory ideas, but to me this sort of topic is really blurring the lines of my role as a teacher. I think that some of these discussions are more appropriate for the home. I mean, we don't discuss politics or religion (unless in a religious school like mine!), but we can discuss issues like GLBT? I'm really just working this out in my head, but I can't see how a school admin can mandate a discussion that is as sensitive as that. Wow.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  8. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I'm not really following how LGBT issues are "sensitive". Respect everyone and don't be an *******. Problem solved.
     
  9. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    The LGBT discussion was not supposed to be about whether is right or wrong to be gay, for example. It was about not bullying students in that population and ensuring that everyone feels safe in the community. In a school surbey, 60% of LGBT students in my school said they felt unsafe at school. So we were talking about how wearing a different color every day can show these students that other people do not approve of the bullying. We also talked about why it was not ok to use slurs against this population, even if you aren't directly targeting them or didn't mean anything by it.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's not ok to use slurs. Period.
    Bullying is not ok. Period.
    Everyone should feel safe in school. Period.

    These are ideas that should be modeled, taught, reinforced and expected EVERYDAY from ALL school members.
     
  11. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Do you disapprove of the idea of focusing on a group (LGBT awareness week) that is clearly struggling with bullying in my school?

    It's something my school has been doing for several years with a lot of support from students and teachers.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Disapprove? No. Just reinforcing that there's all kinds of students who feel bullied, not included, left out...:(
     
  13. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I agree. I never said there wasn't.
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    I know this is off topic, but.....is there just an "anti-bullying week" in your school? I feel like that would be a lot more productive. Like czacza said, almost everyone is bullied or treated unfairly at some point. Instead of discussing a subgroup, if it was opened up to all people being bullied, I think you would get less of the discriminatory talk.
     
  15. Cerek

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    Calling someone else's beliefs "crap" is not the way to gain respect for you own views. Just because a viewpoint is different from yours doesn't mean it is "crap".

    Respecting everyone would include not calling other beliefs "crap". Until you are genuinely willing to respect opposing views yourself, you can't expect others to respect your own.

    As for the sensitivity, it is a valid point that we aren't allowed to discuss religion at school because someone else may be "offended" by certain beliefs. So why is it ok to mandate a discussion about an issue that ties directly into the religious belief of many people, but expect those people to keep any "offensive" views they have about the issue to themselves?

    If slurs or insults are being made about a segment of the population, that is one thing. But if a person simply believes an issue is "wrong" based on their religion, that is a different matter entirely. They are entitled to believe that way and to expect others to show the same respect for that belief as they would like shown for theirs.
     
  16. Accountable

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    O! How I wish I had caught this conversation yesterday!

    I think you missed a great teaching opportunity on critical thinking. This is high school - darn few more appropriate times to think through controversial topics and developing well-thought-out opinions even exist.

    Your post makes it clear where your opinions lie on the two topics you mention. With respect, they are irrelevant in this situation. So are the actual opinions the student stated. Would you have started this thread if a student had as passionately expressed opinions with which you agreed? I doubt it.

    The next time the opportunity arises, I suggest you walk the student through his reasoning, maybe pointing out fallacies in his/her logic - the logic, not the opinion. Encourage the other students to join in, making sure that no one opinion gets less respect than another (that's the really tough part) and that every opinion get the same examination using critical thinking skills. It's the skill that will build good opinions and respect, not squelching controversial ideas.

    There is moral development going on at home, just not of the type you agree with. That's not your call. It's also not your job to decide which opinions he is allowed to harbor and which ones he isn't. That's the negative part of living in a land that respects freedom of thought. You have to show respect for even those opinions with which you disagree ... even for those you don't respect.

    Your obligation is not to teach morality but to teach thinking. Do that, and trust that the kid might see that he picked up "crap" at home.
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Those who demand respect for beliefs that license and lead them to behave badly toward other human beings are not, I fear, living a very credible witness to the Prince of Peace.
     
  18. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    And so ......................... ?


    eta: If by Prince of Peace you mean Jesus Christ, lots of bad behavior has been done toward other human beings in His name. Should we, then, not respect your beliefs?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  19. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    We have bullying curriculum that we discuss, but not a specific week dedicated to anti-bullying.

    But I still think it's a good idea to have a week dedicated to the bullying of LGBT students because so many of those students don't feel safe at school. Seeing the school come together against this can mean a lot for the whole community. This does not mean that my school doesn't take bullying against anyone seriously.
     
  20. Shanoo

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    This is exactly what I do. I don't mind talking about controversial topics, at an age appropriate level (I teach junior high), with my students. When things like this arise, I always ask them why. Why do you feel that way? If the answer was that Muslims blew up the World Trade Center and therefore are terrorists, I would point out the millions of Muslims that did not, OR bring up the many, many non-Muslims that have participated in terrorist activities. Does that mean that the members of that particular religion should be discriminated again as well? And I make sure to ask those questions in a non-threatening way. I really DO want to know why they believe what they believe.

    For a lot of my students, I'm not going to change their minds. I know that. However, I find that my students can't hold proper discussions. They can't express their opinions in a respectful way. If they believe that homosexuality is wrong due to religious reasons, there is a way to express that without adding insult to injury to the LGBT community. I feel that it's my job to teach them how to do that.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

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    An interesting question to pose, Accountable. Should we respect your beliefs? If so, why? And who gets to determine whether we have or not?
     
  22. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I think it's important for students to know that they are entitled to whatever opinion they want to have. They are also allowed to voice that opinion, unless their speech is deemed hateful, in that it is intended to incite a riot or threatens harm to a person or group of people. However, they also need to be taught that sharing opinions (any opinions) will have consequences. One of the consequences is that people may look at you like you have grown a third eye. If you make those kinds of statements at work, you may find yourself without promotions, kept away from service positions, or without a job at all. You may find people awkwardly looking away from you, or even keeping away from you. This is true no matter what your opinion is.
     
  23. Cerek

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    Not sure who this is directed towards, but I'm happy to address it.

    The only demand I make is that each person show the same level of respect for opposing beliefs, views and opinions as they would like shown towards their own. Actually, it isn't even a demand....just a suggestion. If one feels it is ok to label the beliefs of another as "crap", then that person should not be offended when others label his/her own beliefs as "crap".

    It has been my observation over many years that those who express the greatest indignation towards the intolerance of others fail to realize they are often being equally intolerant of differing views.
     
  24. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I want to clarify that LGBT awareness week was to bring awareness to the bullying of this population (not that other people aren't bullied) and show these students that the school community does support them. Thus, I'm don't understand what is wrong with having an LGBT awareness week against bullying in public schools and taking 10 minutes to discuss it.
     
  25. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So, I think that everyone has agreed, but just to clarify I think we agree that there is a difference between tolerance of ideas and tolerance of actions. At no point are hate-based actions (or any aggressive actions) permitted, but for truly healthy discussion to occur, there has to be a permission to think in a certain way and have beliefs (even ones we don't like), because without freedom to have an opinion, there's no grounds for facilitating the development of a healthy opinion.

    In terms of an LGBT week, I'm not against it, but I think it may be an inefficient way of working through issues of inclusion. The concept of "inclusion," if embraced, can be be generalized to many different groups of people. I would imagine, for example, that most of us on this forum who respect various groups of minority status did not separately come to respect each of those groups, but became "inclusive" as a general rule, then applied that general rule to each subsequent group they considered.
     
  26. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    See, this is where I begin to lose understanding. When I was in school which was not that long ago, we discussed religion a lot, and this was in a public school. Yes, it was in the terms of a social studies class, but we were asked about our different beliefs and created issue discussions about the different concerns each religion had.

    I don't see where we're "not supposed" to talk about religion in school, because it happens all the time and was in fact encouraged when I was growing up.

    All the schools I've been to in California (an extremely left-wing state) have had some kind of Bible study group, etc. so when people claim that their kids aren't allowed to pray in school, I don't get them either. I just don't understand where these claims are coming from.

    The only place where I can begin to see where certain people might find fault is that ALL students aren't required to pray to the Judeo Christian God as soon as school starts, and religious freedom and discussion is afforded to other religions such as Islam and Buddhism and they are given equal time in the curriculum without placing one (Christianity) above all others.
     
  27. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Intolerance is not moral development.

    You're saying I'm supposed to tolerate people who are openly intolerant of me? Sorry but that's not how it works in my book.
     
  28. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    I allow my students to express any opinion they want, but I also reserve the right to give feedback. If I had a kid who said something blatantly homophobic or racist, you can bet I would tell the kid. I don't care how you feel about homosexual acts or Muslims, but intolerance is NEVER acceptable. I really feel like my kids deserve to have exposure to a completely open and tolerant of all manner of differences take on life.

    I also teach science, so if they make sweeping generalizations, I ask them for their evidence. Always stops them in their tracks because they can't say "Well, (x) said so, therefore it must be true".
     
  29. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Teachers are generally discouraged not to discuss their personal political views or religious beliefs in class, due to the amount of influence they carry in the class. Most members here agreed last month that they usually do not share who they vote for - or even support - in the election. Rather, we prefer to promote a discussion giving both sides equal weight.

    The conflict with LGBT, though, is that many students' views on the issue (as well as those of the teacher) are tied directly to their religious beliefs, so it is almost impossible to discuss one without discussing the other. So it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have a discussion on LGBT rights without also discussing the religious beliefs guiding those views as well.

    Now, the teacher should still remain neutral and promote healthy discussion and respect for ALL views, including those they may personally disagree with. But we've already seen the OP stating she wants to end these discussions because she didn't like the opinions being expressed by one of the students.

    As for Bible study and personal prayers, many schools do have them, but I have also seen and heard of many schools NOT allowing them. In my own county, a visiting evangelist had been invited to speak to students and different schools, but when he arrived at the largest one, the principal came running down the hall and told him the school could NOT allow him to speak with the students. The minister and a local church had made arrangements to hold a Youth Rally at the school AFTER school hours. That was also cancelled. So it does happen, but that is really a separate issue.

    The conflict I was talking about is generally being discouraged to discuss religious views, then being mandated to discuss an issue tied directly to the religious views of many students.
     
  30. Cerek

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    That's fine, as long as you don't expect anyone you don't tolerate to show tolerance to you. It works both ways and neither attitude of intolerance is more "right" than the other.

    Also, disagreement is not the same as intolerance. I know some very moral people who sincerely believe homosexuality is wrong. They are tolerant of the lifestyle, but honestly believe it is morally wrong to live that way. You can disagree with that view, but if you expect others to respect your views, then you have to be respectful of their beliefs as well, even when you don't agree with them.

    However, the first point I was addressing was your comment about the student's views being "crap" because he saw nothing wrong with Muslims being targeted for searches by airport security. Again, you may disagree with that view, but the student is not expressing intolerance. So when you call his view "crap", you are being no better than those who have no tolerance for your views.
     
  31. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Look, I don't care if people "disagree" with my "lifestyle" or not. Just don't be vocal about it. Seriously, disagree all you want, just keep it private. Rights are guaranteed by our government, and in this country, we have separation of church and state, so I really don't care what people's "religious opinions" are on homosexuality and LGBT rights because it's IRRELEVANT.

    People seem to think they can say whatever they want and quickly hide behind the bible, and think it's justified. It's not okay, and I'm so sick of it happening. Then, as soon as people like me bring this point up, people cry "War on Religion!".

    And yes, his opinion is intolerant. He's grouping ALL Muslims as terrorists and a danger to national security.
     
  32. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    That's exactly what I said! If someone is racist or has whatever kind of negative thoughts / feelings, I can't worry about changing their mind, etc. I just don't want to hear it or see those ideas in action.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Could it be that the OP's student simply sees airport security measures as important and that perhaps efforts are better focused on specific demographics rather than, say, an 80 year old grandma or a 4 year old child?
    Or that perhaps the student might think that some topics are ubiquitous and not germane to only specific groups?
     
  34. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oh I definitely agree that the teacher really needs to keep their personal views out of it. But it is still the teachers job to foster an environment of understanding, tolerance, and respect, yes for all beliefs regardless if the student doesn't agree with a lifestyle or a student doesn't agree with a religion. Hence my advice that this would best be conducted as a student centered discussion rather than being heavily led by the teacher.

    I think rather than not having the conversation at all because a student or a group of students may feel offended by the views of a particular student, the teacher needs to bring the possible consequences the offending students views may cause to the center of the discussion as soon as these views are addressed, especially if those who are too close to the issue cannot speak about it. A good way to do this, is to ask the student or address the class and ask them to stand in the shoes of the student who may be silently offended by such and such's views. How would they feel? What might be a good compromise to make? Ask students to share any experiences that may be close to the issue if they feel comfortable.

    But let me go back to the reason we were talking about speaking about religion and LGBT issues in school in the first place. A previous poster said that LGBT issues are too "sensitive" because "we can't even talk about religion" in our schools. She did not mention anything about a teacher's personal opinions about either. So I still don't understand why some people think we are not supposed to talk about religion in school.

    I still have yet to see any school deny a student's ability to pray in school or hold a Bible study.

    Evangelism in school is a completely different deal. It is a promotion of a single type of religion. So I can understand why this preacher would not be allowed to preach in front of the entire school. If I was a parent of an Islamic student and was told that my student was made to sit through a Christian service against their will, I would be irate.
     
  35. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    And so ......................... ?


    eta: If by Prince of Peace you mean Jesus Christ, lots of bad behavior has been done toward other human beings in His name. Should we, then, not respect your beliefs?[/QUOTE]

    In our land that claims to respect individual equality and freedom, yes, my beliefs deserve as much respect as yours. I daresay I respect your own beliefs more than you respect those of others, based on your post. As Ed Ed (I think) stated, the behavior does not need to be tolerated, but the beliefs do. We have a right to hold whatever beliefs we choose. This right was bestowed by the Prince of Peace, and it is protected by our Constitution.

    Now, by answering your questions I have shown you far more respect than you have to me. You say my question is an interesting one. Please answer it.
     
  36. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    No belief automatically deserves respect.
     
  37. Cerek

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    We can't talk about religion is school because, if we do, people will immediately begin shouting about separation of church and state, especially if the religion or view being discussed is Christian. I'm not crying "persecution", just stating the way things are.


    OK, the evangelist wasn't the best example, but he HAD received permission - in advance - to speak to the students and the assembly was not mandatory. Any students who did not wish to attend were allowed to stay in the classroom. The Youth Rally after school was a better example, since it would have only been attended by those who wanted to be there.
     
  38. Cerek

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    So, in other words, if someone's opinion is different than yours, they're welcome to have that opinion as long as they keep it to themselves and never say anything about it. Yet you feel you should be able to express your own opinion regardless of who agrees with it or not. It's this very attitude that prevents ALL sides from having meaningful discussion on these topics and possibly achieving an understanding of the differing view.

    I know LGBTissue is very personal issue for you, but I'm disappointed you can't see the double-standard you're using.

    As for the comment about Muslims in the airport, I agree with czacza that the student, or his parents, may see nothing wrong purely from a demographic view. Frankly, I feel the same way. I don't believe for a moment that ALL Muslims are evil terrorists, but the fact remains that Middle Eastern males have been the most active group in the last few years when it comes to terrorist attacks on planes, so it makes sense THAT would be the group that should be targeted most often by airport security. It's simple statistics. Yet you classified his views as "crap" simply because they don't agree with your own and remind you too much of the persecution you have felt yourself.
     
  39. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    Mike is more saying that people shouldn't be intolerant of differences. Many people are raised in homes that are racist, sexist, etc., but in order to function in the world, you need to recognize these attitudes and actively fight them. HATRED IS NEVER OKAY.

    To say that Muslims are terrorists is racist, plain and simple. To say that homosexuals are not deserving of equal rights is wrong.

    Everyone should be treated equally.
     
  40. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    :confused:
    That's a meaning of separation of church and state that I never have heard. Are you sure you aren't just making a definition up to support your point of view that you don't have to keep quiet but everyone else does if they disagree with your belief.
     
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